Thank Tebow February is finally over. Worst month of the year, hands down.
The NFL Combine is underway and Free Agency is right around the corner — as is Spring and the rolling back (or forward, whatever the hell it is) of the clocks so the sun stops setting at 3:30 PM. All good things on the horizon.
So allow me to be a massive, massive turd in this Friday punch bowl as I get into another of my Top 20 Most Memorable New England Patriots Moments of 2023.
There were some great moments last season, and there were some not-so-great ones. This definitely falls into the latter category.
The list so far:
20. The Patriots trade N’Keal Harry.
At No. 19, we actually have what was arguably one of the most memorable moments of the season — or at least one that allowed for some interesting conversations over the following weeks.
19. A game-sealing Mac Jones interception is coupled with a gruesome ankle injury against the Ravens.
The end of September saw the Baltimore Ravens head into Foxboro to take on the Patriots in a game that, for the most part, Pats fans expected to lose. What was once one of the best games on the NFL calendar was now a bit less than that, as both the Ravens and Patriots were reconfiguring their identities, but the general consensus was that the Ravens were further along in their development than the Patriots were. Through two weeks of the season, New England looked fairly inconsistent and were struggling offensively. The Baltimore game represented a solid measuring stick against one of the better teams in the AFC and a chance to test themselves.
The game was, for the most part, a mixed bag. The defense was unable to contain Lamar Jackson as he rushed for 107 yards and a TD on the day, but they also managed to keep points off the board and generated two turnovers to give the offense solid field position. The offense continued to look wildly inconsistent, but DeVante Parker registered his best day as a Patriot with five catches for 156 yards, and the Patriots ran for almost 150 on the ground. Mac Jones had over 300 yards passing — but he was sacked three times and threw three picks. Both teams seemed primed to pull away at times, but also shot themselves in the foot at times. A 14-13 halftime score quickly became a 21-20 score into the third quarter as both teams traded touchdowns, but then a disastrous two drives for New England (five plays for 10 yards and a punt then a pick after just two plays) led to 10 Ravens points and a 31-20 lead. New England was able to answer back, though, as a Rhamondre Stevenson touchdown pulled the Patriots to within a score.
Jon Jones forced a Ravens fumble on their very first play of the ensuing drive, giving the Patriots the ball back at the Baltimore 39. Mac Jones drove down to the 14, well within field goal range, before throwing a horrendous pick in the end zone on third-and-goal to nullify both the turnover and a promising drive. Baltimore milked more time off the clock, but once again, the defense held and forced a punt. The offense got the ball back on their own 29 with 6:29 left to play — plenty of time to drive down the field and tie it.
And a huge 28-yard completion to Agholor gave everyone reason to think that a tying score could very well be in the cards. Unfortunately, he fumbled it away, Baltimore recovered, and the defense couldn’t hold after such short rest. Baltimore engineered a 7 play, 73 yard TD drive that more or less put the game away.
The Patriots, in desperation mode, tried for big chunk plays in hopes of getting a quick score and salvage any chance of a comeback. But any small hopes of that happening came when a Mac Jones deep pass intended for Kendrick Bourne was intercepted, Jones’s 3rd of the day, and that was all she wrote.
Except that wasn’t all she wrote.
Not only did that pick completely ice the game for Baltimore, but Jones was badly injured on the play as his ankle was rolled up on by Calais Campbell during the play. He immediately gabbed his ankle, tried to get up and put weight on it, but immediately hopped towards the sidelines on one foot in serious pain.
Let’s all be honest: as we all watched Mac Jones being carried off to the locker room, grimace on his face, we all figured his season — and ours — was over. Usually when a guy is in that much agony and he can’t even put any weight on his leg, that’s all she wrote. That the injury came on yet another pick in garbage time when the game was already over just added insult to injury. It wasn’t even October yet, and Patriots fans were already silently comforting themselves with some version of “well, at least we’re likely to get a good draft pick now” as their second year Pro Bowl QB limped off the field for what we all thought would be the last time in 2022.
Ultimately Mac Jones was able to return, and much sooner than we all expected, but this was a pivotal moment in the 2022 season and definitely one of the most memorable ones. The events that unfolded over the next few weeks, a few of which will be featured on this list at some point, were nothing if not wildly interesting. In what was a complete rollercoaster of a season, ups and downs galore (though more the latter than the former, we can all agree), the Mac Jones injury against the Ravens was, for better or worse, a defining moment of the year.
This Ravens game was also the first of several that took place throughout the 2022 in which the Patriots actually hung in there for a lot of it; the defense kept it close for most of the game, and the offense had several opportunities to tie it and/or take the lead — but stupid mistakes, costly turnovers, and a general inability to move the ball ended up screwing them. However, what we all remember most about this game is that injury, and even though it’s not the happiest moment, it’s for sure a memorable one, so here it is at No. 19.
Check out the Jones hit here.
Game highlights here.